Home » Blog » Presentation Training Lessons Learned from Tokyo 2020

The flame of the Tokyo Olympics has been extinguished, and the preparation for Paris in 2024 has begun. There were some truly remarkable performances by athletes in all disciplines, from the traditional – track, field and in the pool – through to the new – BMX, skateboarding and speed climbing. Add in the Covid element, and it was an Olympics that will stay in the memory for years to come.

Across the globe, armchair athletes cheered them on in their millions. It didn’t matter a jot which country they represented or the technicalities of the sport (will anyone ever understand the finer nuances of the omnium?). Instead, we revelled in the amazing stories of sacrifice and commitment that each Olympian puts in to perform on the biggest World stage.

We’ve witnessed for ourselves the investment each of these athletes put into their sport. By day, Jack Phipps is an Eyeful Account Director, responsible for some of our most significant client relationships (and an excellent job he does of it as well). But by night and at weekends, Jack is an international pole vaulter who has hopes to make the cut for next year’s Commonwealth Games. As such, Jack is one of the most focused and committed people I’ve ever met – training at ungodly hours, watching every calorie consumed, steering away from sinful things like a post-work beer, always opting for a soft drink. He is ‘on it’ 100% of the time.

This commitment to being the best you can be put me in mind of great presenters. What is it that both groups do to be at the top of their game?

Taking a Holistic Approach

Like great athletes, effective presenters are usually the culmination of a lot of hard work across a range of disciplines.

Take boxing as an example – working on your strength but not giving your technique a decent workout might get you through the first minute of the first round but unlikely to win you the bout.

Presenting is precisely the same – it’s about getting a balance and maximising your skills across the board. Great soft skills don’t deliver results in isolation – they need to be supported with strong presentation storytelling and powerful visual punctuation to ensure your message is delivered, understood and actioned upon.

You Can’t Learn To Swim From A Book

While athletes invest time in learning the theory, they make those all-important marginal gains out on track. They get out there, push themselves and learn what works (and, equally importantly, what doesn’t).

With presenting, buying books like ‘How to Present Like Steve Jobs’ will get you so far, but you need to apply the theory to make a difference. So let’s dream big – what if, after reading the book, an expert who had been coached by Steve Jobs took you through the ‘reality’ of presenting great stories, owning the stage and building anticipation from an audience? That’s pretty much the thinking with Eyeful’s presentation training. Yes, we introduce our own IP through our book, ‘The Presentation Lab, but then create a presentation training programme that builds upon the theory by being put through your paces by an accredited Eyeful training practitioner.

Turning the theory into practice is always going to pay longer-term dividends.

Coaches & Trainers Matter

Despite their superhuman appearance, athletes are human too. There will be times when they would prefer another 30 minutes under the duvet to working out on a cold and raining practice track. This is where trainers and coaches come in. They motivate, cajole, reinforce best practice and generally keep things moving in the right direction.

Every PB comes in part from the support provided by a trainer or coach.

The same goes for presenting. It’s all too easy to fall back into bad habits, to not complete an Audience Heatmap before a presentation, to fail to prepare your ‘Evaluate’ stories or to overlook your ‘Must-Intend-Like’ call to action. Great presentation trainers introduce and embed these principles, while internal coaches reinforce the right Presentation Culture within your business. Without these people in place, dreams of smashing your personal presentation PB will remain just that – a dream.

The Will to Succeed

No matter how naturally talented you are, either as an athlete or storyteller, you need to practice and commit. The age-old Arnold Palmer quote comes to mind – “It’s a funny thing. The more I practice, the luckier I get”.

Our very own Jack is one of the best pole vaulters in the country, not only because of his natural talent but also due to his incredible commitment to the sport and training. It’s quite a thing to behold.

Equally, the best presenters never get complacent. We’ve had incredibly experienced presenters book into the Presentation Campus because they wanted to continue to invest in their own skills. Each new idea and concept was viewed as a marginal gain, allowing them to keep on top of their game and ahead of the competition.


The Power of Presentation Storytelling:

Presentation Skills Training – From ‘Connect’ to ‘Sustain’:

Presentation Training – One Customer’s Story:

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